I was a carpenter and architectural woodworker in Northern California for 12 years before sidestepping into a related writing, photography, and editing career in 1988. I’ve also been swinging a hammer between keystrokes lately to help make ends meet. After all, when media work gets scarce, there’s always a fence to mend, a wall that needs a window, a door that doesn’t “click.”
It never fails that, as I perform my rituals to prepare for carpentry, such as sharpening plane irons and lubing gears, I see tools as something more than merely form following function. If only for a moment, I see art, animated by timeless design, world geography, and memories—every bit as riveting as the architecture and furnishings it helps to create. I envision, at the very least, photos of these and other tools populating dwellings, coffee shops, and boardrooms, not to mention The Museum of Modern Art. Here’s a glimpse of some of my photogenic favorites.